Thursday, May 12, 2011

Coming Soon---Review of A Life Together by Bishop Sigrist

I am excited about reviewing a new book from a friend and colleague , Bishop Seraphim Sigrist, former bishop of Sendai in Japan. This book, A Life Together: Wisdom of Community From the Christian East (Paraclete Press, 2011) looks at community life from the Eastern Christian perspective.

Sigrist looks at the concept of sobornost or conciliarity as the foundation for our life together. Sobornost is a Russian word which basically means "togetherness." Sobornost means that the Church is not just the bishops alone or the priests alone or the laity alone but everyone working together for the common good of the entire Body of Christ. Unfortunately, many parishes and eucharistic communities do not work on this model. The priest or bishop in many cases (too many!!!) think that they "rule the roost." Well, this is just false. The entire community is responsible for the well-being of everyone else.

One of my greatest frustrations in parish life is reminding lay people that they have an essential role to play and that they need to take greater responsibility and ownership of parish life including visitation ministry and stewardship. Ministry is not just for clergy but for everyone. We can all contribute something to the community of faith. I know many clergy who try to "do everything" in the parish and therefore the lay membership do not need to participate. Thankfully the tide is changing. I am lucky to have very good lay leaders who have taken on more parish responsibilities. Hopefully this type of leadership will increase over time.

A review of A Life Together will be coming soon, make sure to check back.